Into the Abyss: We Go Together

The nagging, a tickle, the haunting of some other voice.  A trace.  But you have developed ways to repress this secret voice calling you with its faint barely audible voice.  But it lingers still.  What to do?  Ignore it?  Too late: you can only do this for so long.  Reject it as irrational?  But it remains there all the same.  Irrational or not, there is a calling from the abyss that no language however analytic and clear can finally do away with it once and for all.  Finally, one must confront it, to acknowledge it and engage it–to tarry with the negative.

Recently, about 70 students signed-up to the inaugural Global Center for Advanced Studies (GCAS) seminar, “Introduction to Political Economy: The Crisis in Higher Education” and we immediately found ourselves opening up our lives with one another even before our first meeting.  We opened with the freedom to voice a fundamental contradiction found within the heart of each and everyone’s experience as we traversed through the “educational” process.  What we found was that although we were being “educated” we found something wanting in that experience.  We all passed the “tests” we all achieved the “success” of degrees (BAs, MAs even PhDs) attached to our names, but in the very appearance of the these letters we realized we had lost something too.  What did we loose?

There is a sense in which what we have lost was something much more profound, something barely audible–a whisper even.  I think, and I am summarizing here, that what is lost is that we had to put aside the fire and inspiration of the joy of collectively arriving at something as like a journey whose destination is the journey itself.  In short, this contra-voice emerges at the precise moment when the degree is granted and the journey is hijacked by the socially marked terminal point of a “degree”!  Congrats!  You have made it!  But in the “making it” to an end–we’re realizing a great dissatisfaction that we have been made premature “masters” of a subject whose end can never be arrived at.  We have come to realize that in the journey of learning there is an infinite endeavor that keeps requiring our lives, our attention, our desire.  It requires something more than ourselves.

In short, all I wish to say is that it is a joy to be part of a community, a mere seminar whose aim is not just about achieving something great, but more importantly it is a joy found in each other, and to realize that you are no longer alone.

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